Physical Inactivity Predicts Slow Gait Speed in an Elderly Multi-Ethnic Cohort Study: The Northern Manhattan Study

Joshua Z. Willey, Yeseon P. Moon, Erin R. Kulick, Ying Kuen Cheung, Clinton B. Wright, Ralph L. Sacco, Mitchell S.V. Elkind

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Introduction: Gait speed is associated with multiple adverse outcomes of aging. We hypothesized that physical inactivity would be prospectively inversely associated with gait speed independently of white matter hyperintensity volume and silent brain infarcts on MRI. Methods: Participants in the Northern Manhattan Study MRI sub-study had physical activity assessed when they were enrolled into the study. A mean of 5 years after the MRI, participants had gait speed measured via a timed 5-meter walk test. Physical inactivity was defined as reporting no leisure-time physical activity. Multi-variable logistic and quantile regression was performed to examine the associations between physical inactivity and future gait speed adjusted for confounders. Results: Among 711 participants with MRI and gait speed measures (62% women, 71% Hispanic, mean age 74.1 ± 8.4), the mean gait speed was 1.02 ± 0.26 m/s. Physical inactivity was associated with a greater odds of gait speed in the lowest quartile (<0.85 m/s, adjusted OR 1.90, 95% CI 1.17-3.08), and in quantile regression with 0.06 m/s slower gait speed at the lowest 20 percentile (p = 0.005). Conclusions: Physical inactivity is associated with slower gait speed independently of osteoarthritis, grip strength, and subclinical ischemic brain injury. Modifying sedentary behavior poses a target for interventions aimed at reducing decline in mobility.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)24-30
Number of pages7
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Oct 1 2017


  • Elderly
  • Gait speed
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Mobility
  • Physical activity
  • Subclinical stroke

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Clinical Neurology


Dive into the research topics of 'Physical Inactivity Predicts Slow Gait Speed in an Elderly Multi-Ethnic Cohort Study: The Northern Manhattan Study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this